Skip to main content
Election 2024 Government & Politics

Latest GOP elections nominee to face tough questions, while another nomination is held

The Maryland State Board of Elections office in Annapolis. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

The Maryland Republican Party will take another shot at filling two seats on the Maryland State Board of Elections.

On Wednesday, Gov. Wes Moore (D) submitted the name of Diane Butler, an Ellicott City resident, for the panel. She is one of two Republicans submitted by the state party.

Butler is the latest pick by the state Republican Party to fill two of five slots on the Maryland State Board of Elections. If confirmed, she would fill the vacancy left by Carlos Ayala.

Federal prosecutors say this image shows Carlos Ayala on the Upper West Terrace at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Ayala was subsequently appointed to and resigned from the Maryland State Board of Elections. Image from court documents.

Ayala resigned in January after being indicted by federal prosecutors for allegedly participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.

The five-member panel is appointed by the state’s two major political parties. The party which holds the governor’s office holds three of the five board seats.

The election of Moore in 2022 ensured that Democrats would control the majority of seats for the first time in eight years.

Nominees for the elections board are selected by the state Democratic and Republican parties. The parties then submit the names to the governor, who, in most cases, forwards them on to the state Senate for confirmation.

In the last 14 months, the Maryland Republican Party has had trouble with its nominations. Butler represents the fourth nominee selected by the party to fill its two elections board seats.

A spokesperson for the Maryland Republican Party was not immediately available for comment.

Butler has a varied background, including eight years on the Howard County Board of Elections, where she served until June 2023.

On her LinkedIn resume, she lists her current occupation as a contract employee “supervisor-troubleshooter” for the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Educational Progress.

The Ellicott City resident and home school teacher served on the county’s Republican Central Committee from 2008-2014.

She also lists membership in the Screen Actors Guild as an actor, stand-in for Lynda Carter and stunt double.

Butler unsuccessfully ran for Howard County Board of Education in 2008. She complained that an opponent portrayed her negatively as a “home school teacher who wanted to teach creationism and religion” in public schools.

Years later, she founded Responsible and Educated Drivers, an organization focused on discouraging texting while driving. She started the group in response to a car crash that severely injured her then 16-year-old daughter.

Butler is the fourth nomination the state GOP has made in 14 months for the State Board of Elections.

Last year, Moore nixed the Republican Party’s nomination of William T. Newton, saying the perennial candidate for office “does not meet our internal vetting standards.”

The governor cited Newton’s recent history of challenging the outcome of the 2020 election. He also cited a guilty plea involving “a crime of moral turpitude.”

Newton pleaded guilty in 2019 to charges of misdemeanor embezzlement in a case involving his mother. Newton was sentenced to probation before a judgment contingent on paying $16,495 in restitution in installments of $100 per month.

Following Newton, the Senate Executive Nominations Committee rejected the nomination of Christine McCloud, a Howard County hypnotherapist whose election experience was limited to working for one candidate at a poll in the last election. The committee cited concerns about McCloud’s voting record which included voting in only one primary and four general elections since 2010.

The panel approved Ayala only to see him indicted in January. He resigned his seat on the day of his indictment.

Because of those flawed nominees, Butler will face tough questions from the Senate Executive Nominations Committee.

Senate President Bill Ferguson and Senate Executive Nominations Chair Antonio Hayes, both Baltimore City Democrats, said Ayala’s alleged participation in Jan. 6 coupled with other Republican nominees who were critical of the validity of the 2020 elections demanded a new litmus test.

On Monday, the committee asked State Elections Administrator Jared DeMarinis about his thoughts on the legitimacy of state and national elections. He was also asked about his whereabouts during the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.

The Maryland Republican Party has one remaining slot to fill on the state board.

William Voelp, the former board chair, has remained on the panel as a holdover appointment — though not as its leader — since July.

James F. Shalleck, an attorney and Republican activist in Montgomery County, is running as a delegate to the Republican National Convention representing Nikki Haley. His candidacy is delaying consideration of his nomination to the Maryland State Board of Elections. Screenshot of a 2022 campaign video.

The governor’s office confirmed the Maryland Republican Party nominated Jim Shalleck to fill the spot currently held by Voelp.

Shalleck, a former prosecutor, unsuccessfully ran for state attorney general in 2022. He was president of the Montgomery County Board of Elections for six years. He also unsuccessfully ran for Montgomery County executive a decade ago and for Montgomery County state’s attorney before that.

Shalleck is currently running to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention, supporting former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Haley announced Wednesday that she is ending her bid for president.

“Mr. Shalleck has filed to run for delegate to the Republican National Convention, and because he is actively running in an election he cannot be appointed to the State Board of Elections at this time,” a Moore spokesperson said in a statement. “Governor Moore will take action on his nomination after the upcoming primary election.”

Josh Kurtz contributed to this story.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our website. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

To republish, copy the following text and paste it into your HTML editor.


Creative Commons License AttributionCreative Commons Attribution
Latest GOP elections nominee to face tough questions, while another nomination is held